Before we begin: What is your favourite fruit to eat and why do you like it so much? Please discuss with group.
Many people like fruit trees and the produce that comes from them. If we are prone to eating fruit, we find that, in moderation, it is good for us. However, if we have too much or too little fruit, we may find that we have some health issues that we need to deal with.
Over the next six issues of Lutheran Women, various authors will take us through the Fruits of the Holy Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-26.
As any gardener knows, when you plant a tree, seedling, or a seed into the ground, you need to do some groundwork first if you want to harvest a nice crop. I am not much of a gardener, if a seedling lives, well and good, if it does not survive, it is just an experience. Yet I still know that I must dig the soil over, add nutrients to it, water the seedlings, look out for any diseases, and eventually there may be something to pick. The Holy Spirit is like a gardener who tends to the plants in a garden. He walks amongst us, helping us, consoling us, and healing us. He is also a gardener who may prune us to produce a better fruit crop. What we might feel, as being a hard patch in our lives, could be the Holy Spirit nurturing us and drawing us closer to God the Father and God the Son.
So that the Holy Spirit may prepare us, let’s pray together:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. O God who, by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
What are the fruits of the Spirit? As a group or individually, can you name them?
The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is a biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a person, or community, living in accord with the Holy Spirit according to the letter that Paul wrote to the Galatians: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other (5:22–26 NIV).
So, Paul helps us to identify that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Our local ecumenical kids club here in Cummins (SA), called Xroads, has a song that they sing called, The Fruit of the Spirit’s not a coconut. It lists different fruits which we are told are not fruits of the spirit, and then it goes into the chorus to tell us what the spiritual fruits are.
Now in anyone’s language, at times these Fruits of the Spirit are hard to come by and just as hard to hold onto.
What do you think is the easiest fruit to have in this list and which is the hardest?
When have found it hard to hold onto these fruits that are mentioned by Paul?
When have you found it easy to hold onto them and to produce them?
If we are real with ourselves, we all struggle with each of these fruits. Who doesn’t struggle to love God above all else, to love ourselves and not hate ourselves, but to love our family and neighbours as ourselves? And the same can be said for the eight other fruits of the Holy Spirit. Each one of them can be a struggle and it is only over time that they can be instilled into our lives by the Holy Spirit.
For this to happen, the Holy Spirit needs to dwell in us. This first happened at our Baptism when our parents brought us forward and our saving faith was created. And ever since our Baptism, Jesus through the Holy Spirit, has continued to sustain the saving faith inside of us. The Holy Spirit helps us to do this as we remember our Baptism daily. The Holy Spirit helps us to form the fruits of the Spirit as we dwell in or meditate on the written Word of God, which points to Jesus, and as we meditate on Jesus and what he has done in our life.
However, that doesn’t stop our fallen sinful nature from getting in the way. It is like a disease. It stunts the growth of the Holy Spirit in our lives and, in turn, stunts the fruits of the Spirit which God would like to grow in our lives.
What are some things that stop you from forming the Fruit of the Spirit in your everyday life? To help, read Galatians 5:19–21.
Now, getting back to the fruit trees. Some are beautifully kept, they are planted in the best spot, they are pruned on a regular basis, they are fertilised at the right time, they are mulched and watered. On the other hand, there are some trees that no matter how well they are tended to, they just struggle to survive. The gardener knows every part of the tree, both the good points and the bad points. Each of us is a fruit tree in God’s garden and God is the gardener who tends to us.
As we continue these studies on the Fruits of the Spirit. My prayer is that all of us are given a teachable spirit, so that we may learn from the Holy Spirit and each other, for we all have something to contribute to the life of the church.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all that you do in our lives. Thank you that you sent your Son to save us on Good Friday. Thank you that you sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and that you continue to send the Holy Spirit out over all the earth. We place before you the needs of the community that we live in. Bless us as we go from here. Help us to share your love with those around us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Peter Klemm